Walnut study hints at powerful protection against IBD damage

A daily diet that includes walnuts may help protect against inflammatory bowel disease, according to a new study out of the University of Connecticut. The research looked at the effects of walnuts on mice that had induced ulcerative colitis, though a clinical trial is currently underway that looks at the effects of this nut on humans with IBD.

Walnuts, the popular 'brain-shaped' tree nut, are readily available in most regions. These same nuts may offer powerful protective effects against an IBD called ulcerative colitis, according to a new study, though it's unclear at this time whether the nuts are protecting against damage or helping the body repair it.

The researchers looked at the effects of walnuts in mice that had ulcerative colitis induced for the purpose of this study. The mice were fed what would be the equivalent of around 20 to 25 walnuts in a human for the duration of two weeks.

After those two weeks, the researchers found that mice 'suffered much less [colon] injury' from ulcerative colitis episodes. As well, the researchers noted that these mice seemed to have 'enhanced' colonic mucosa repair after eating a diet with walnuts.

However, the researchers note that they can't, at this time, figure out whether the colon was resisting ulcer-inducing damage or if the walnuts were helping the body repair the damage.

Regardless, the team notes that mice fed walnuts suffered 'far less' injury to their colons than mice that didn't receive walnuts. Additional research may shed light on which phytochemicals or nutrients are offering this protective effect against IBD, as well as whether the same results are experienced in humans.